Brighton & Hove Albion-Watford Preview
On his maiden managerial voyage in the Premier League, Graham Potter is charged with trying to keep Brighton & Hove Albion out of the relegation zone.
That journey begins Saturday against Watford at Vicarage Road.
Brighton is back for a third straight top-flight stay, but they failed to win any of their last nine Premier League matches and finished just above the drop zone in 17th place on 36 points - two better than relegated Cardiff City - with a 9-9-20 mark. That record was not good enough for Chris Hughton to keep his job as gaffer, so Potter was hired following the end of the season to make sure the Seagulls are in better form this term.
Potter, who played with the likes of West Bromwich Albion and York City, most recently coached at Swansea City in the Championship. His focus entering the season is on how the Seagulls fare in August and not in May.
"We'll focus all of our attention on Watford and there to win the game," Potter told Brighton's official website. "We know it's going to be difficult, but that will be our mentality. "We'll need to carry that through the season - try and win the next match and see where that takes us."
The popular Glenn Murray scored 13 of Brighton's 35 league goals last season, but he'll turn 36 in September and no other player on the 2018-19 roster registered more than five goals. Plus, the Seagulls scored just three times over the final nine games.
Pascal Gross has the potential to be a big-time contributor while the addition of fellow midfielder and Australia international Aaron Mooy should help. On the back end, Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk probably deserve more notice than they get.
Brighton has managed just one goal (courtesy of Gross in December 2017), but conceded only two while going 1-2-1 versus Watford over the last two Premier League seasons.
The goal for the Hornets this season again remains a top-half finish in the table. They fell short in 2018-19, finishing 11th on 50 points - two points back of 10th-place West Ham United. In truth, Watford's 14-8-16 record was rather disappointing considering they won their first five games of the campaign.
Gerard Deulofeu returns after a 10-goal season, while forwards Andre Gray and Troy Deeney and midfielders Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue all are capable of bringing the Hornets that top-10 finish. The addition of former Arsenal and Manchester United midfielder/forward Danny Welbeck is an interesting acquisition, from an experience and leadership standpoint, at the least.
"The squad we've got here is full of good players and people I'm really looking forward to playing with, and trying to push to that next level," Welbeck told Watford's official website.
Updated August 8, 2019